David Frum

01.30.13

Too Old for a Gun?

WWII veteran Ray Cahow, 82, checks out an ArmaLite rifle at the National Rifle Association of America's (NRA) annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center May 16, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. The annual meeting and exhibits for the NRA, which boasts about 4 million members, will run through May 18. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) ()

Another day, another casual gun killing - but this one with a twist straight out of South Park's "Gray Dawn."

A Latino man, aged 22, driving with his girlfriend and two other friends, pulled into a driveway in Lilburn, Georgia. Lilburn is a town of about 12,000 people, in Gwinett county, to the northeast of Atlanta. It's a town with a rising Latino population, up from about 13% to over 27% between the 2000 and 2010 Census.

The Latino man, Rodrigo Diaz, was said by his friends to have entered the driveway by mistake. They said was looking for the home of another friend.

Unfortunately for him, the driveway actually belonged to 69 year old Phillip Sailors. Sailors, a Vietnam vet, was armed. According to Diaz's brother, this is what happened next:

“The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”

Police report that Sailors believed that Diaz and his group intended to rob his house.

But what about the claim that Diaz was backing away when the older man shot and killed him?

Sailors' lawyer gave this answer to reporters:

He [Sailors] fired a warning shot and then when the car was accelerated to go in reverse he perceived it differently.

“He’s an elderly man, he perceived the car going towards his house, towards him.”

Asked about the contention that the victim rolled the window down and said sorry and he wasn’t doing anything wrong, Puglise said he wasn’t aware of the statement.

“Each person in the situation perceived things differently,” he says. “He most certainly did not hear anything.”

Suggestion: if you're too old to perceive the difference between a car moving forward and a car moving backward, maybe you're too old to carry a gun?